This has been an amazing year and normally I would share with you information on the CFT’s numerous activities and campaigns. But that can wait until the New Year. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut our political and organizing successes, as significant as they are, seem less important. But I have neither the language nor the wisdom to make sense of these deaths.
What I do know is that those of us who work in education, no matter what our role, commit our lives to the safety and well being of all of our students. When the sanctity of our schools and the safety of our children is violated in such a horrendous way we must speak out.
It is long past the time when stricter gun control measures should be enacted. It is also encouraging that for the first time in many years elected leaders and others are talking about the need for expanded mental health services in our schools and in our communities.
The grief of the Newtown community will never go away. Perhaps this event will be the one that awakens us to demand laws that end the flood of guns in our communities. We have the power to make this happen.
Joshua Pechthalt, President
California Federation of Teachers
We grieve for the families of those who were lost, and offer our support to the community. Please help us make sure the people of Newtown see, hear and feel our support in this difficult time.
The entire AFT community is shaken to its core by this massacre of young children and the educators and school employees who care for and nurture them. Twenty children and six adults were shot and killed today in one of the worst school shootings in history. We grieve for them all, and our prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community and all of Newtown, as well as the AFT nurses caring for victims at Danbury Hospital, following this heinous act. I just got off the phone with Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski, and pledged to do everything we can to provide support and comfort to the students, teachers, administrators, their families and everyone in this community grappling with this trauma.
Our thanks go out to all of the first responders for their efforts to ensure the safety of all the students and staff. In this horrible moment, there were also extraordinary acts of courage by school staff to lock down the school and protect children.
We’ll never be able to prevent every senseless act of violence, but our children, educators and school employees go to school believing it is a safe sanctuary. We’ve been through this too many times. Everything we can do, we must do, including a renewed focus on gun control and preventing gun violence.
President, American Federation of Teachers